Cork 2-20 Limerick 1-13: A blistering 12-minute spell either side of half-time – in which the home outfit hit 1-6 without reply – propelled Cork past the reigning Munster champions to avenge last year’s semi-final defeat.
The outlook from a Cork perspective was bleak approaching the break as Limerick held a 1-9 to 0-5 lead and were causing endless problems for the home defence, none more so than inside pair Barry Murphy and Seamus Flanagan who posted 1-7 in the opening half.
The Cork touch was poor, they were a step behind their Limerick counterparts each time the ball was delivered into space and their shooting was suggestive of a side low on confidence – seven first-half wides they clocked.
On 28 minutes, a chance to revive their flailing effort presented itself and while it may have taken Denis Ring’s charges three attempts, they eventually grabbed it. Robbie O’Flynn put Ciaran Cormack through and while the full-forward’s shot was repelled by Limerick ’keeper Eoghan McNamara, as was Tim O’Mahony’s rebound, O’Mahony then connected a second time and the sliotar whistled past McNamara.
Shane Kingston, the contributor of 1-9 over the hour and easily Cork’s most impressive performer, split the posts thereafter to reduce the deficit to three – 1-9 to 1-6. The interval break failed to halt Cork’s momentum and a flurry of white flags from Kingston (0-3), Cormack and O’Mahony moved the Rebels in front for the first time.
Barry Murphy clipped Limerick’s first score in 14 minutes to stem the tide. The Treaty walls, however, collapsed in the ensuing passages of play as Kingston pilfered 1-1, cleverly hopping the sliotar in front of McNamara for his team’s second major.
From there to the end was a red procession – substitute John Looney (0-2), O’Mahony (0-2), ‘keeper Declan Dalton (free), Michael O’Halloran (0-2) and Kingston on target. Limerick’s implosion is underlined by their second-half tally of 0-4. “It was a tremendous turnaround,” said Cork boss Denis Ring.
“Fellas were a bit naïve at the start, were a bit green and showed Limerick too much respect. I have been telling the lads they need to take the initiative and maybe that we didn’t do so early on is that we are coming from a low confidence base. They restored pride in Cork tonight because we were very disappointed last year when losing to Limerick. The game was won in the 10 minutes before half-time. The goal was crucial as was Ciaran Cormack coming out the field and winning ball the dirty ball. We said to the lads they have to believe in themselves and it was great to see them hurl with such abandon in the second period.”
The visitors roared from the blocks and had 1-4 on the board inside 11 minutes to carve out a five-point advantage. Peter Casey, Barry Murphy and Seamus Flanagan (two frees) peppered the Cork goals with a string of fine points before Flanagan struck for the contest’s opening goal.
The full-forward fetched Darragh Carroll’s sideline cut, swivelled past the swarm of closing red shirts to fire beyond ‘keeper Declan Dalton. Leo O’Connor’s troops were deserving of their lead, but failed to significantly push on subsequently as Cork arrived at the pace of proceedings.
Kyle Hayes, Murphy and Flanagan swapped efforts with Cork’s Shane Kingston (0-3, 0-1 free) and Declan Dalton, and while Murphy and Flanagan combined to move Limerick seven clear, Cork were revived by O’Mahony’s goal strike.
Scorers for Cork:
S Kingston (1-9, 0-4 frees); T O’Mahony (1-3); D Dalton (0-1 ’65, 0-1 free), M O’Halloran, J Looney (0-2 each); B Dunne, C Cormack (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick:
S Flanagan (1-4, 0-4 frees); B Murphy (0-5); P Casey (0-2); W O’Meara, K Hayes (0-1 each).
D Dalton (Fr O’Neills); S Smith (Midleton), D Griffin (Carrigaline), N O’Leary (Castlelyons); M Coleman (Blarney), E Murphy (Sarsfields), D Lowney (Clonakilty); C O’Leary (Valley Rovers), D Fitzgibbon (Charleville); T O’Mahony (Shandrum), R O’Flynn (Erins Own), S Kingston (Douglas); B Dunne (Fr O’Neills), C Cormack (Blackrock), M O’Halloran (Blackrock).
D Gunning (Na Piarsaigh) for O’Flynn (HT), J Looney (Aghada) for Dunne (44 mins), Limerick: E McNamara (Doon); M Bourke (Garryspillane), C McSweeney (South Liberties), J O’Grady (Knockainey); C Carroll (Ahane), P O’Loughlin (Kilmallock), C Byrnes (Murroe Boher); C O’Connor (Kilmallock), T Hayes (Doon); K Hayes (Kildimo Pallaskenry), P Casey (Na Piarsaigh), T Grimes (Na Piarsaigh); B Murphy (Doon), S Flanagan (Feohanagh Castlemahon), D Carroll (Kilteely Dromkeen).
C Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for C Carroll (36 mins), W O’Meara (Askeaton) for T Hayes (44), D Hannon (Pallasgreen) for D Carroll (53), P Harron (Kileedy) for K Hayes (57), C Magner-Flynn (Kileedy) for O’Connor (59).
J McGann (Clare).
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